The brand-new United Football League will only be a home to the NFL’s most wayward souls if fans of the league approve of it.
The UFL unveiled its plans to play in 2009 albeit on a smaller scale than originally planned with four franchises in place for a six-game schedule. Plans are to add between two and four more franchises for 2010.
UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue last year opened up the possibility of having currently incarcerated quarterback Michael Vick join the league if he is released from prison in time. He is currently serving a 23-month sentence on a federal dog fighting conviction, but could obtain an early release this summer.
Huyghue, as most Tennessee Titans fans know, is also the former agent for the infamous Adam “Pacman” Jones, who was officially waived by the Dallas Cowboys on Monday.
Jones, the Titans’ first-round pick in 2005, who was finally traded to Dallas last year after more than a year of suspension for a dozen off-field incidents, found himself suspended this year with the Cowboys and was eventually released.
Huyghue said his new league wouldn’t necessarily welcome such troubled types into its fold without fan approval.
“I think it’s too early to tell, because we’re, but we did talk about Michael Vick earlier,” Huyghue said. “We are a fan-driven league, and with those types of situations, we would put it on our web site and let our fans make the determination.”
Nashville attorney Worrick Robinson, who helps represent Jones, said he is hopeful of getting his client another shot in the NFL somewhere for 2009.
“Right now, we are looking for another opportunity somewhere in the NFL, and we wouldn’t look at anything else until we have exhausted every opportunity to stay in the league,” Robinson said.
Huyghue didn’t completely rule out players with such baggage joining the UFL, but said the league won’t be about being a safe harbor for players with behavioral issues.
“We are more of a league of opportunity for guys that haven’t been given the chance, more so than guys looking for second chance,” Huyghue said. “But every situation would have to be taken on a case-by-case basis.”
Huyghue said the league has not had any contact with Jones or Vick’s representatives.
The UFL’s focus, according to Huyghue and the league’s statement announcing its formation, will focus on college players and NFL players who don’t make it through final cuts.
“We’re more about second-year players that got cut and things like that — guys that may not be practice squad eligible and things like that,” Huyghue said.
Teams will be based in New York/Hartford, Conn., Las Vegas/Los Angeles, San Francisco/Sacramento and Orlando, Fla.
The teams that are splitting home locations will be based in the first city, but will play at least one home game in the second city with the league hoping to expand to that city the following year.
“The economy is kind of slow, so we figured we would start smaller and grow big rather than bite off ore than we can handle,” Huyghue said.
The league is scheduled to kick off in October and play games on Thursday and Friday nights.